Girls’ Varsity Tennis coach steps down after a successful 28 years on the court

Linnea Shively, staff writer

After another successful year and state appearance for Edina Girls’ Varsity Tennis this fall, head coach Steve Paulsen finished his last season coaching at the high school level. After coaching for 28 years, which consisted of 23 state championships and garnering a record of 608-17, Paulsen has decided to retire. 

Paulsen’s own journey with tennis began as a student at Northfield High School, where he developed a passion for the game that translated over to coaching in recreational programs. During his college years at St. Olaf, Paulsen was an All-American athlete, a title given to top collegiate athletes of a particular sport. While earning his teaching license, Paulsen also started coaching high schoolers at Edina. “I am a teacher by trade and that interest has led itself to teaching others tennis,” Paulsen said. 

As a coach, Paulsen focuses on encouraging and pushing his players to succeed without being overbearing. “I let the players play. I do expect them to get the most out of their game and to be working toward that end, but I’m not a yeller by any means,” Paulsen said. As long as his players give full effort, Paulsen provides the space for them to learn and improve. 

His relaxed coaching and approachability is appreciated by his players both on and off the court. “He’s a very easy person to talk to, whether it’s something tennis related or not. He’s been playing for so long so he has important things to share with us to make us all better,” junior and a three year contributing varsity player Paige Greene said. 

Not only is Paulsen retiring from coaching at EHS, but he is finishing up his last year teaching math as well. Looking ahead to his retirement next year, Paulsen will continue coaching tennis at Interlachen Country Club, where he is the director of racquet sports. “I’m certainly not planning to give up my teaching,” Paulsen said. 

After another sections win this fall, Paulsen was excited for his final tournament season. “I love coaching the girls all year long but especially during [state] tournament time. It’s an extra special experience for them,” Paulsen explained. Each tournament season, he looks forward to watching the girls’ hard work from the season play out on the court.

Paulsen’s hopes of ending his last season with a win was achieved as Edina tennis clinched another state championship, number 23 for Paulsen. Not only were Paulsen’s goals realized this fall, but also the players’ as well. “[We want to] win state and enjoy our last minutes with Steve since he will be missed,” Greene said a week before the tournament. And on the evening of Wednesday, October 23rd, Greene and Paulsen were able to celebrate victory over Minnetonka in the state championship, a fitting end to Paulsen’s legendary career.